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Columbia University has found itself in the middle of controversy after U.S. News & World Report announced it had “unranked” the university after being unable to verify the underlying data submitted by the university. Photo: Pixabay

Columbia University loses its #2 spot in the U.S. news rankings and gets sued by students

Columbia University loses U.S News ranking after it couldn't verify submitted data, prompting students to sue the Ivy League institution.

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U.S News & World Report provides a yearly comprehensive list of Best Colleges to benchmark each school’s performance across ranking indicators. However, ranking can be influenced by what participating schools disclose and the data received. 

Columbia University has found itself in the middle of controversy after U.S. News & World Report announced it had “unranked” the university after being unable to verify the underlying data submitted by the university. 

This has led to an uproar among students of Columbia University, who resorted to legal ramifications. According to Higher ED Dive “two former students alleging the Ivy League institution broke a New York consumer protection law — and its contact with them — by submitting potentially false data to bolster its placement on U.S. News and World Report’s Best Colleges ranking.” 

What’s alarming about this “unranking” is that according to The Chronicle Of Higher Education, “in February of this year, a math professor at the university, Michael Thaddeus, publicly questioned the accuracy of Columbia’s position in a detailed analysis that he posted on his faculty page.”

The professor investigated the data submitted by his institution to U.S. News and “alleges administrators submitted inaccurate data on class sizes, the percentage of full-time faculty with doctorates or other terminal degrees, and how much the university spends on instruction,” stated The Chronicle Of Higher Education

Amid the allegations from the professor the University issued an email statement: “We take seriously our responsibility to report information accurately to federal and state entities, as well as to private rankings organizations,” the statement reads. “We consistently work in good faith to answer the hundreds of questions across surveys conducted by U.S. News & World Report and others every year, each with criteria that evolve over time,” as reported by The Chronicle Of Higher Education

However, not long after this, in June, Mary C. Boyce, provost of Columbia University, announced the university was suspending its data submission, and withdrawing from the upcoming 2023 rankings “because it was investigating accusations by one of its own mathematics professors that the No. 2 ranking was based on inaccurate and misleading data,” reported The New York Times.  

As a result, students are suing Columbia University. One student still remains anonymous in court filings, while the other, Ravi Campbell, “argue students paid ‘a premium for tuition and other fees’ but were deprived of the education Columbia claimed to offer when it submitted information for rankings about factors like student-to-faculty ratios and class sizes,” reports Higher ED Dive

These students report the alleged misreporting only demonstrates the institution's unethical practices. 

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